Emotional manipulation in marriage can be destructive. Here is a complete guide to help you survive and deal with a toxic relationship.
When two people come together and pledge to spend the rest of their lives with each other, it is a beautiful thing. But sometimes, that fairytale-like scenario can turn into a nightmare. If one partner is emotionally manipulating the other, it can create a toxic and damaging relationship.
Emotional manipulation can take many forms. It can be something as seemingly innocuous as pouting or giving the silent treatment when you don’t get your way. Or, it can be more overt, like threatening to leave or cheat if you don’t do what they want.
Either way, emotional manipulation is a form of control. And it is not healthy for either partner in a marriage. If you feel stuck in a manipulative relationship, this guide will help you understand your partner and give you tips on how to deal with their subtle manipulation.
What is emotional manipulation marriage?
Marriage is a bond of trust, love and companionship. However, when one of the partners manipulates the other, it can ruin the very foundation on which the marriage was built. It is the opposite of emotional support.
Emotional manipulation in marriage is an deceptive thing to deal with because it often goes undetected. The victims of such manipulation often find themselves going along with things they don’t want to do, because they feel guilty and compelled to do so.
All manipulation could be considered emotional because it targets you with guilt, coercion, and control.
The goal of emotional manipulation is to control or influence someone’s emotions. It is often done in order to gain power or advantage over the other person. In marriage, emotional manipulation can be used to control or influence one’s spouse.
For example, a husband may try to control his wife’s emotions by making her feel guilty about spending time with her friends or family. He may also try to make her feel guilty about her career or other aspects of her life.
Manipulators may also use emotions to intimidate or coerce someone into doing something they don’t want to do.
If you’ve ever felt the following, you have problem been under the sway of a master manipulator:
- -Lying or withholding information
- -Withholding money or access to money
- -Making someone feel guilty
- -Playing the victim and turning things around on you
- -Using gaslighting to control and confuse you (“You’re too sensitive,” “You always take things the wrong way,” etc.)
- -Pretending not to understand you or taking things out of context to confuse you
- -Blaming you for everything that goes wrong in their life
- -Questioning your ideas, thoughts and feelings, as if they are more correct or intelligent than you (condescension)
Why manipulation is wrong
Manipulation can lead to feelings of powerlessness, resentment, anger, and guilt. It’s not uncommon for someone who has been manipulated to feel ashamed and embarrassed by the experience.
There are many reasons why emotional manipulation is wrong. Some of the reasons include:
- It is a form of control.
- It is a way to avoid taking responsibility for one’s own actions.
- It can hurt the other person emotionally.
- It can create a feeling of dependency in the other person.
- It can make the other person feel like they are not good enough.
Consequences of Manipulation
Emotional manipulation can lead to serious consequences. For example, if someone threatens to hurt you or your family if you don’t give them money, this could cause financial problems. In addition, if someone uses emotional manipulation to try to control your behavior, it may prevent you from being able to make healthy decisions for yourself.
1) Emotional manipulation is wrong because it is a form of coercion.
It is an attempt to control someone else by using their emotions against them. This is not only unethical, but it is also abusive.
2) Emotional manipulation is also wrong because it is often used to exploit people.
Manipulators will often take advantage of someone’s vulnerabilities in order to get what they want. This can be anything from money to sex.
3) Finally, emotional manipulation is wrong because it can lead to long-term damage.
Manipulators often create an environment of fear, insecurity, and doubt. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
How can you tell if someone is emotionally manipulative?
Because manipulation can be subtle, it is often difficult to tell if you are being coerced.
In fact, if your spouse is emotionally manipulative with you during arguments and discussions of problems in your marriage, you may not even be able to recognize that they are doing this because they are so adept at making it seem like it’s what you’re doing to them.
However, emotional manipulation in marriage is usually a symptom of deeper issues within the relationship. If you think that your spouse is emotionally manipulating you or trying to make you feel guilty for something that isn’t your fault, it may be time to evaluate how well things are going between the two of you.
Chronic manipulation in a relationship is borderline abusive behavior. In many ways (when excessive) it falls in the emotional abuse category.
Signs of Manipulation in a Relationship
The signs of emotional manipulation are often subtle. But here’s what to look for. This doesn’t mean that if someone does one of these behaviors once (or even ocassionally) they are manipulators. If, however, they have a habit and pattern of treating you this way, it indicates they have the traits of a manipulator.
- They constantly try to change the subject.
- They never take responsibility for their actions.
- They always play the victim.
- They try to control every conversation.
- They use guilt to get what they want.
- They always need to be right.
- They use other people to do their bidding.
These are certainly not the only signs of manipulation, but they are the key markers to watch for in a relationship.
3 Big Results of Feeling Manipulated
Manipulation brings about a flurry of emotions. These three feelings are common when you are dealing with a controlling and manipulating person.
1. You feel like you are to blame and it makes you feel crazy
Feel like you’re going crazy. If your partner is not agreeing with what you are saying, and it’s creating a lot of conflict, they may be manipulating you. It’s important to be clear on what the facts are and what your opinion is, and then to make sure that your partner is distinguishing between the two. Sometimes, we can get confused between the two and think that our partner is not agreeing with something that really isn’t true.
2. You lose a sense of your identity and don’t feel yourself.
Don’t feel like yourself anymore. Are you starting to question who you are? Do you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner? This is a sign that your partner may be trying to control or manipulate you. When this happens, it’s important to take time for yourself and hang out with friends and family so that you can reconnect to your own feelings and values. It’s also a good idea to reach out for counseling or coaching so that you can get some support as well as learn how to set boundaries in your relationship so that this behavior stops.
3. Guilt becomes normal and you feel like you are responsible
Feel guilty all the time. If a person is constantly making us feel guilty about things that we’ve done or said, it may be a sign of emotional manipulation.
What are examples of emotional manipulation?
Manipulation takes many forms. But the end result is always the same – control.
After talking with hundreds of couples, we’ve found two major ways couples manipulate. While this is by no means the only ways, these two forms of control are common in unhealthy marriages.
I call them anger and intimacy. Men tend to manipulate through anger. Women use moodiness and physical intimacy to control.
Disclaimer: Not every marriage is like this. I’m simply reporting the data that we have found in talking with couples in manipulative relationships.
Two examples might help clarify.
How John Used Anger To Control Mary
John and Mary had been married for years. They had a happy life together, but John always had a controlling personality. He was always the one who made the decisions in their relationship, and he always had to be right.
Over time, John began to use emotional manipulation to get what he wanted from Mary.
He would start arguments with her and then refuse to talk to her until she gave in to his demands. He would make her feel guilty for things she didn’t even do. And, he would constantly threaten to leave her if she didn’t do what he wanted.
Mary began to feel like she was walking on eggshells all the time. She was scared to upset John, so she started doing everything he wanted. She stopped seeing her friends, she stopped doing the things she loved, and she became a shell of her former self.
Eventually, she lost the sense of who she was. She felt trapped. Boxed in. Always afraid that if she said something wrong, John would fly off the handle.
John’s method of control was anger. He used it to get what he wanted. He knew Mary didn’t like conflict, so he used his temper to control and manipulate Mary.
How Angel Withheld Intimacy To Get her Way
Angel and Carmen have been married for over ten years. For the most part, they’ve had a decent marriage. At least at first.
Through the years, Carmen began to notice that Angel was selfish in many ways. He didn’t care that she wanted certain things. After all, they both had great jobs and made good money. But it did bother him that when she didn’t get her way, she would take it out on him. It was subtle. But felt it.
If things really didn’t go her way, Angel stopped being affectionate with him. She didn’t hug him, kiss him, or even touch him. He was confused and hurt by his wife’s behavior.
When it first happened, Carmen tried to ignore her coldness. He told himself that she was just having a bad day. But as the days turned into weeks, he realized that his wife was deliberately withholding affection from him. She was using her body to manipulate him.
Angel knew that he was a physical person and that he needed physical affection. By withholding it, she was able to control him. She used her body to get what she wanted from her husband.
Eventually, when she got what she wanted she started being affectionate with him again. The long term effect was that he felt like he couldn’t trust his wife anymore. He felt like she was always going to use her body to control him.
How to Deal with Manipulation in Your Marriage
Dealing with emotional manipulation in marriage can be difficult because it often causes victims to doubt their own experiences and instincts.
The most important thing to remember is that no one deserves to be manipulated, but it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you if it happens. When dealing with emotional manipulators—whether at work, with a friend, or within your family—it’s best to remain calm and stick to your guns.
You may also want to seek help from a counselor or therapist if you find yourself stuck in a pattern of unhealthy relationships.
How to Respond to Manipulative Behavior
Here are eight (8) things you can do when your spouse tries to manipulate you.
Just remember, you can’t fight fire with fire. This rarely works, unless you just want to fight. If, however, you want to disarm and dismantle the manipulation, these tips will help deal with any manipulative person.
1. Don’t Take It Personal
This is not often easy to do. It’s natural to feel personally attacked. It FEELS so personal.
But it’s important to remember that manipulators often target people who are kind and giving because these qualities can make them more vulnerable and easier targets for manipulation.
Don’t let yourself get sucked into the blame game that manipulators play so well. Remind yourself that this is not about you — it’s about them trying to control you by pushing your buttons and getting a reaction out of you.
2. Set Boundaries
A boundary is a line that you draw that indicates what you are willing to do and not do in a relationship. If someone is manipulating and trying to control you, it is important to set boundaries with that person.
This may mean setting limits on what you are willing to do or saying no to requests that you are not comfortable with. It is also important to communicate your boundaries to the other person in a clear and assertive way.
3. Stop Engaging Them
The best response to manipulative behavior is to stop engaging in the conversation. This will not only give you space to think through your feelings but will also signal your partner that you’re done talking.
4. Stay calm and focused on your goals
Manipulators don’t respond well when others push back against their behavior because it makes them feel like their control over their targets is slipping away.
By arguing or reasoning with them, all you do is give them ammunition against which they can defend their own behavior and manipulate others even further.
Don’t lose sight of the goal, which is to disarm and dismantle their behavior.
5. Don’t try to reason with a manipulator; they won’t listen to reason
Manipulators are not interested in hearing your side of the story or in finding a compromise that works for both of you. All they care about is getting what they want, and they will use any means necessary to achieve their goal.
If you try to reason with them, they will simply use your own words against you or find some other way to twist the situation to their advantage. The best thing you can do is to walk away and avoid them as much as possible.
6. Don’t give in to their demands just to make them happy or avoid confrontation
Stand up for yourself and set boundaries with a controlling person. Explain calmly and assertively what you will and will not do. Be firm in your resolve and do not give in to demands or threats. Seek support from others if necessary.
The more you give in, the more control a person will try to exert over you. If you don’t set boundaries, a controlling person will continue to try to control you.
7. Don’t try to convince them they’re wrong; they’ll just argue with you more
Manipulators are often very convincing and can talk their way into or out of anything. If you try to convince them that they’re wrong, they’ll likely just argue with you more. It’s best to just let them be and move on.
Arguing seems to be their favorite pastime. They love to argue. They’ll find any excuse to start an argument, and they’re usually very good at winning them. If you find yourself arguing with a manipulator all the time, it’s probably best to just walk away.
8. Don’t be afraid of telling them no; they’ll respect it more than anything else
Manipulators are often afraid of the word “no.” If you can learn to stand up for yourself and say “no” when you need to, it will go a long way in dealing with a controlling spouse.
This may no be comfortable, but it is necessary. If you do not establish boundaries, the manipulative behavior will continue.
Final Thoughts On Emotional Manipulation in Marriage
The goal of any marriage is to have a healthy relationship.
The takeaway from this is that emotional manipulation is a serious problem that can destroy relationships. It’s important to be aware of the signs of emotional manipulation and to take action to protect yourself and your relationship.
- What is emotional manipulation marriage?
- Why manipulation is wrong
- How can you tell if someone is emotionally manipulative?
- Signs of Manipulation in a Relationship
- What are examples of emotional manipulation?
- How to Deal with Manipulation in Your Marriage